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ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Brides Ornaments: Meditat. IIII. Of Patience.

The Brides Ornaments: Poetical Essayes upon a Divine Subject. [In The Song of Songs, Which was Salomons.]

Robert Aylett


The fourth meditation consists of an imposing assemblage of patterns of patience, concluding with a character of Saint Paul.



Well hath our Valiant Guide Mans Life compar'd
Unto a warfare, where we alwayes stand
In complete Armour, ready and prepar'd
The force of cruell Foe-men to withstand,
Where Satan, World, and Flesh together band,
By open force and treason to subdue,
And leade us captive by their mightie hand,
And all unarm'd, or out of order due
They fetter'd drag to Hell with cursed damned crue.

Which to avoid, he wills us to be strong
In God, and in the Power of his might;
And the whole Armour that doth here belong
To Christian Souldiers, on our Soules to dight:
For here with Flesh and Bloud we doe not fight,
But Empires, Powers, Principalities,
The Worldly Governors of darkest night,
Sublime spirituall subtile Enemies;
Which to resist, he ghostly Armour doth devise.

The Belt of Truth, Brest-plate of Righteousnesse,
Faiths Shield, and Hope the Helmet of salvation,
Sword of the Spirit, Prayers ferventnesse,
Feete shod in Peaces Gospels preparation:
These be the Weapons of our Militation.
Of Helmet, Brestplate, Shield, and Girdle, wee
Alreadie have conceiv'd a Meditation:
These foure the upper parts arme to the knee,
But Patience, Legs, whereon the rest supported bee.

For so the Learned seeme to give the Sense,
This Preparation of the Gospels Peace,
To be the brasen Bootes of Patience,
Which doth defend from Thornes and Stones disease
Our Legs and Feete: And where the Belt doth cease,
These Boots of Patience Armour doe supply,
By which in compleat Armour we doe prease,
And stand undaunted 'gainst our Enemy;
This Vertue is the next my Muse seekes to descry.

Which well is call'd the Gospels Preparation,
For never any Patience true and sound
Can be, but by the Gospels mediation.
The Heathen built not on this certayne ground,
And therefore this true Patience never found,
Which but by Peace of Conscience none attayne:
This Peace the Gospell onely doth propound
By reconcilement of the Lambe (Christ) slaine;
Without this Peace of Conscience Patience all is vaine.

Thou glorious God of Peace and Patience,
(Who sent'st thine onely Sonne our sinnes to beare,
And by his Suffring and Obedience
Upon the Crosse from guilt of sinne to cleare
All those to whom his Crosse is sweet and deare)
Direct my Muse this Grace aright to reade,
That knowing, I never may once forbeare
To practise Patience in thought, word, and deede,
But to the end my Life in Peace and Patience leade.

Which is a gift of God, whereby we are
Inabled willingly and constantly
All crosses that God layes on us, to beare,
For Goodnesse, Godlinesse, and Honestie.
Impatience 'tis to beare unwillingly,
And but an idle feigned false pretence,
To boast of Vertue without Constancie:
Her parts be foure; of which some difference
May seeme at first, yet all make but one Patience.

The first part is, from Anger to abstayne;
The second is a constant Expectation;
The third is, to the end Right to maintayne;
The last consists in willing Sustentation
Of all afflictions here, and castigation.
But Man to these foure parts we onely tie:
For the last part, which doth consist in Passion,
Unto th' eternall Being comes not nigh,
Who's free from all Affliction and Calamitie.

Yet is he rightly call'd the Patient God,
And doth in first three named parts transcend:
First, farre from Anger, when he spares his Rod,
He doth expect and wait till we amend:
And last, abides the same unto the end:
He fruitfull Times and Seasons of the Yeare
Unto the good and bad alike doth send;
Most patiently doth with our Follies beare,
And where he once doth love, he never will forbeare.

Thus Mercy, Zeal, Repentance, may be said
Inexplicably in God to bee;
Zealous, yet not offended or dismaid:
Most Mercifull, yet griefe did never see:
Repenting, yet without remorse is hee:
Most Patient, yet without least payne or passion.
Of Vertues parts, which are of Frailtee
And Weaknesse, God hath no participation,
Yet want they not in Man their use and commendation.

As is the Cause and End of Patience,
So we her true or counterfet esteeme;
The Cause and End doe make the difference:
If we for Fancy, Glorie, Lust, Wealth, seeme
To beare with Patience, Hunger, Payne, Cold, Teene;
This suffring, missing her true Cause and End,
As falsely feigned, counterfet we deeme:
But if for doing well, or to defend
The Truth we suffer, this our Patience doth commend.

The greedie Merchant suffers wreck for gaine;
For Lust some doe endure ev'n basest shame;
The Souldier spends his blood for glorie vaine;
Th' Ambitious venture all to purchase Fame;
Loe, there we carnall Ends and Causes name.
True Patience causes honest are and just,
When for ill-doing we doe suffer blame.
Take paine for Glorie, Honour, Gayne, or Lust,
Rewards like to the Cause and End expect we must.

But true immediate ground of Patience
Is the sweet Gospell (as I said) of Peace:
For Man, deepe plung'd in sinne and foule offence,
No Creature could Gods wrath but Christ appease.
In stead of Love, Gods wrath on Man did seise,
Till Christ concludes our Reconciliation,
And us of our offences doth release,
Of which the Gospell is th' Annunciation:
Therefore is Patience cal'd the Gospels preparation.

And therefore as her Cause and End is Peace,
So all her workes to inward Peace doe tend,
Which in the inward Man doth most increase,
When outward Warres seeme most him to offend,
Shee doth our Soules most valiantly defend,
By patient bearing crosses, paine, and shame,
Which shee with Patience suffers to the end,
Except they crosse the Glorie of Gods Name,
Or Neighbours good, which to endure deserveth blame.

One evill is of Sinne, and one of Payne,
That ill of Sinne this Dame cannot abide,
But that of Punishment shee counteth gayne.
Gods holy Name blasphem'd or Truth deni'd,
Or wicked Men Gods holy Saints deride,
Is no true Patience patiently to heare:
But on our selves when crosses doe betide,
Then Patience true doth patiently forbeare,
For shee her owne, not others wrongs, delights to beare.

If one will take her Coate injuriously,
She suffereth such losse with Patience;
But if of Faith, Love, Truth, or Honestie
One would deprive her, that is such offence
As cannot stand right with her Conscience.
Shee private Wrongs most willingly doth hide,
But faults admitteth under no pretence.
Shee can endure Men should her selfe deride:
But her Profession scorn'd shee no wayes can abide.

Compell her to a mile, shee will go twaine;
Strike her on one, shee turnes the other Eare;
All wrongs done to her selfe shee can sustaine,
But none done to her Neighbours shee can beare:
If shee to love her selfe commanded were,
She evil would resist with ill againe;
But, loe, her Lord resistance did forbeare,
When he was scoffed, scourged, beaten, slaine,
And open'd not his Mouth to curse or to complaine.

Afflictions are her Objects, which we find
Divers, as they in divers Subjects rest,
Afflictions of the Body and the Mind,
Which Mind and Body dang'rously infest.
Against these, Patience is alwayes prest,
And them as well-come Friends doth entertaine:
More crosses shee endures, more shee is blest,
And knowes through anguish, trouble, griefe, and paine,
Her ayme, eternall rest, shee in the end shall gaine.

Thus Heaviness and Sorrow prove her Heart,
How willingly, how long, shee will abide;
How lowly, humbly, shee endureth smart;
How void shee is of Hautiness and Pride,
Anger, Revenge, selfe Love, and Envies gride.
If minds affictions shee could not withstand,
How could shee beare such as her Flesh betide,
Plagues, Torments, Labours, Paynes, Diseases, and
Death, Fastings, Watchings, Prsions, Cold, and Yron band?

Most sweet Companion and most welcome Ghest,
To ev'ry payre combin'd in Amitie:
The chief Maintayner of each joyous feast.
Begun in Wedlocke, Friendship, Charitie,
Sweet Patronesse of each Societie;
Continuing all that Love begins in Peace:
Most sacred Twin with sweet Humilitie,
For as one growes the other doth encrease,
And to attend on Love and Mercy never cease.

What doth the Love 'twixt Husband and the Wife
Then Patience More fast and firme maintayne:
Who keepes true Friends from discord, jarre, and strife,
And Children in their Parents love retayne;
Shee Masters favour doth to Servants gayne,
And tels them they a Master have above,
Who God most patient doth ay remayne,
Though they to wrath him ev'ry day doe move:
Thus Patience preserves all Peace begun by Love.

None can ascend to glorious Court of Love,
But he must clime by Patience, beare with payne,
Without this Patience all the Vertues prove
False shewes, which doe no substance true retayne.
What Love, Faith, Hope? What Grace did ere remayne
Constant? without this gift of Patience,
Therefore shee is the Glorie of Loves trayne,
The Vertues all attend her Excellence,
And shee againe attends them all with Recompence.

Those most Heroike Vertues, Fortitude,
Prudence, Joy, Justice, Bountie, and the rest,
What are they if you Patience exclude,
But ev'n so many torments to molest
Mans Soule, if with affliction once distrest?
Zeale without Patience doth like Furie spurn:
Ev'n heav'nly Knowledge doth our minds infest:
Repentance, like Hell fire doth Conscience burne:
Wer't not for Patience, all would to Confusion turne:

As Christ the Authour of true Patience;
So of Impatience, Satan and his brood,
First shew'd in Garden in Mans Innocence;
Whilst he in Makers Grace and Favour stood:
Mans glorie in Gods Image could not beare,
He them seduc'd to eate forbidden food,
Whereby our Blessings chang'd to Curses were,
Till Patience in the Garden us againe did cleare.

Since this these two doe worke by contrarie,
By Patience we our Soules possessen here,
And we them lose by our Impatiency:
One heares sound Doctrine; th' other stops her eare.
For Love, Christ, Godlinesse, or Honestie,
By Patience more than Conquerors we are:
Impatience makes us cowardly to flie;
True Patience, brings all Grace; all Vice, Impatience.

There's an extreme besides Impatience,
(Because by Vertue clok'd) most dangerous,
Which is a light Regard and stupid Sense,
Not feeling crosses which God layes on us;
Such as doe vant themselves so valourous,
That by Gods punishments they set most light,
Plague, Famine, Sword, Fire, Wives and Childrens losse;
But scorne his chastenings all, which doth his wrath incite.

Such never looke at God, who these doth send;
Nor on their sinnes, the Cause of all our smart;
Nor on the End, that they their lives might mend:
But with rebellious will and stubborne heart,
Gods Father-like chastisements doe pervert,
Whereby they doe themselves the fruit denie
Of Gods corrections, which should them convert:
Like Beasts and Blocks they under burthens lie,
Referring all to Heathen Fate and Destinie.

These the Almighties Patience provoke,
(Like Pharoah) Judgements on their heads to send,
And turne his scourging stripes to fatall stroke,
Bringing a fearefull and a desperate end.
Of two extremes from this Lord me defend,
Oh, rather let me fainting take a fall,
Then as incorrigible thee offend,
Which is most wicked dang'rous sinne of all.
Into the first thy Saints; the last, the Devils fall.

This Heath'nish, blockish, base impatience,
(Which is a froward dull Stupiditie)
Doth (like to Opium) amase the Sense,
And makes Men as dead drunke all senselesse lie;
Ah, how can he his Armes or Legs emply
Like Christian Souldier, valiantly to fight
Gods Battailes, whom such Drugs doe stupifie?
Or how can he of Christs Cup taste aright,
That doth in such dead cursed drunkennesse delight?

This World's the Field where all Saints Souldiers are,
Assaulted daily by Gods Enemies,
Who therefore must by Christian Patience beare,
Payne, Hunger, Cold, all incommodities,
Wayting for Victuall, Ease, and new supplies.
They constantly must hold out to the End,
One bearing with others infirmities:
To faint of flie before the Battaile end,
Is worse, than if to fight they never did intend.

Love is the Mother, Patience the Nurse
Of ev'ry linke and band of Amitie:
And though Hate and Impatience ban and curse,
Seeking to choke all good Societie;
Yet Patience nurseth all in Charitie:
Her sincere Milke is patiently to beare,
And suffer wrong and harme most willingly.
Ah, but for her Patience, Malice all would teare
Kings, Husbands, Fathers, nould their Subjects, Wives, Sonnes, spare.

Nothing her Nature better can expresse
Then her to Bootes and greaves of brasse compare,
Which doe the Feete and Legs of Souldiers dresse
That in the fore-front of the battell are;
Thus shod, on Speares, Pricks, Goades, Pikes, treade we dare;
Losse, Shame, Crosse, Fire, Grief, Sword, and Banishment,
Which would o'rethrow us, if our Legs were bare:
But Patience arms them with such hardiment,
They passe them over all with courage and content.

As Temples, Arches built by cunning hand
Of Artist, skilfull in Geometrie,
More weight on them is laid, more firme doe stand.
So Patience, more opprest most sure doth lie.
No Stormes, Wind, Weather, can our House destrie,
Erected on such sure and fast foundation:
Afflictions doe the joynts more strongly tie,
And knit most firme by patient sustentation:
For more shee suffers here, more is her consolation.

And as the soundnesse of a firme foundation
Is best discern'd when most weight on is laid;
And Faith unfeign'd best tryed by temptation,
Mercy most seene, when Poore doe want our aid:
So Patience is most gloriously displaid
By Crosses, Paynes, Disgrace, Indignities,
Which without her our Soules would have dismaid,
And Bodies griev'd with basest injuries:
All Vertues fairest shew, oppos'd by contraries.

Her very Name and Etymologie
Describes this Ladies Nature wondrous right:
For Patience, Sufferance doth signifie,
Forbearance, farre from Anger, and to fight
Gods Battails with true courage and delight.
Hee's stronger that can over-come disgrace,
Crosses and injuries by patient sp'rit,
Than he that walled Cities doth deface,
And Monarch-like doth sway the whole World by his Mace.

Like as the heav'n above is garnished
With Sunne, and Moone, and glistering Starres by night,
So hath Gods Church beene alwayes furnished
With patient Mirrours to direct us right;
Yea, though we had no Scriptures us to light,
Examples of th' Elect might be our line,
To walke in Patience with all our might,
So they before to us, that follow, shine;
That number Starres, he may that can their names define.

Begin we with our Sunne before the Flood,
Our patient Maker; How did he forbeare?
Though Enochs prophecying they withstood,
Yet God with their iniquities did beare,
Untill the Deluge up the Arke did reare.
Next see his Patience and forbearance kind,
To them that underneath the Covenants were:
But most his suff'rance under Grace we finde;
As Father most to love his youngest is inclin'd.

Our Saviour next, whose Life, Death, Suffring, shame
To us, all Patience doth represent:
Whereby all Christians ought themselves to frame,
Following his foote-steps who before us went,
Who ne're did sinne, nor ever guile invent:
Yet when he suffer'd, threatned not to smite,
But dumbe like to a Lambe most innocent
Commits his Cause to him that judgeth right,
Bearing on Crosse our sinnes, that he redeeme us might.

Now follow Starres which doe receive their light
From that most glorious Sunne of Patience;
Meeke Abel, slaine by cruell Cains despite;
Noe, Preacher to th' old World of Penitence,
Bearing scoffes, scornes, for his Obedience;
Abram forsakes his Kindred, House, and Land,
And patiently a stranger dwels in Tents:
At ninety nine is circumcised, and
His deare sonne Isaac offers at his Lords command.

See Isaac patient to embrace the Knife:
Jacob enduring churlish Labans wrong;
His Dina's Rape, his Sonnes most cruell strife;
With Joseph, who endured prison strong,
For doing well; who can expresse his long
True Patience, that did Pharaohs pleasures leave
To suffer payne his Brethren among?
Yet meekest Moses did stone-Tables cleave,
When Zeale of Gods great Glorie did his sense bereave.

How patiently did holy David bear
Sauls persecutions, waiting for his Crowne?
When he his skirt cut off, took up his Speare:
Yet would not let Abisai smite him downe.
But none for Patience like to Job is knowne:
Loe, Christ himselfe the Patience doth commend
That Prophets, Priests, and Martyrs have us showne,
All which in briefe the Truth for to defend,
Have without grudging held out constant to the end.

All wrestled in this Field of Patience:
Some scorns, stripes, fetters, prisonment sustayne:
Some racking, sawing, broyling, banishments:
Some scourg'd with rods, with sword some have beene slayne:
In Sheepe skins, Goate skins, some to walke were fayne;
Of which the world in no wise worthy were,
All will dread on the Mountaynes and the Plaine,
In earthly Dens and Caves lay hid for feare;
These all by Faith in Christ of Patience followers are.

I should doe wrong unto all Women-kind,
Should I the praise of Patience them denie:
So many for the Truth with constant mind,
In flames of fire have let their body frie:
Besides continuall payne and miserie,
In bearing, nursing, Children they abide,
Whereby they doe maintayne Posteritie.
O blessed Maid, what griefe did thee betide,
To see thy Sonne on Crosse his Armes to open wide?

But I too farre the Readers Patience presse
With multitude of Paternes from without;
Since only inward Patience can us blesse,
And make us like to Lyons bold and stout,
Preserving us from perill, dread, and doubt,
Whilst patiently we here all crosses beare,
To th' end with Christian courage holding out,
And never Mans pride or Hells malice feare,
For by this suffering, more than Conquerors we are.

We reade that Socrates did Patience gayne
By patient bearing his impatient Wife:
And we this Grace by suffring may attayne,
If in Faith, Hope, and good Workes we be rife.
Doubtlesse our paynes here, crosses, griefe, and strife,
Are nothing if they rightly be compar'd
Unto the Joyes, Crownes, and eternall Life,
Which God above for all those hath prepar'd,
That with true Patience of his comming have regard.

But ah, we of farre other spirit are,
In our hot blood we cut off Malchus eare;
But if our lives be question'd, then we dare
The Truth denie, and ev'n our Christ forsweare.
Mans mind possest with furie or with feare,
Falls from the meane to all extremetie:
For want of courage he no crosse can beare,
Or for revenge doth offer injurie,
Both which alike are guiltie of Impatiencie.

When I the Lives of Holy Martyrs reade,
And what great torments here they suffered,
As Members sympathizing with the Head;
Saint Lawrence on a gridyron tortured,
Who at's Tormentors never murmured,
But pray'd them onely turne the other side,
For one was broyl'd enough and martyred:
And her that did most paynefull death abide,
Whom with hot scalding pitch from top to toe they tride;

Should I here wish their Patience or their Payne?
No sure, I wish both payne and Patience:
The more I suffer here the more's my gayne;
The greater losse, the greater recompence.
Ah, this to flesh and blood is sore offence,
And unto carnall minded, enmitie,
That take delight in pleasing of the Sense,
Their Nose with smels, their Touch with luxurie;
Their Taste, Eyes, Eares, their Heart and all with vanitie.

Though thou escape crosse, scourging, sword and fire;
Yet surely, if thou liv'st the life of Grace,
And walk'st uprightly as Gods Lawes require:
Flesh, World, and Devill thee will seeke to chace,
As peevish, singular, vaine, foolish, base:
Yea, wicked Men thy Patience to trie;
Will thee deride, dishonour, scorn, disgrace:
We Patience shew in bearing injurie
For Christ, as well as those that for the Truth doe die.

Lord grant me Pauls true constant resolution,
Not onely for thy Names sake to be bound,
But willingly to suffer dissolution.
Some scorching flames like beds of downe have found,
In some such inward comfort did abound,
When as they suffred for Christs holy Name,
For signe of inward joy and comfort found,
Their hands they lift up to expresse the same,
Till they consumed were ev'n by the scorching flame.

It was th' Apostles triumph and delight,
To be accounted worthy for Christs sake
To suffer scourging, prison, shame, despite,
Which did them way to Crownes and Glorie make:
More happy 'tis to suffer at a stake
For Truth, then end our dayes in ease and rest:
Paul for a wondrous favour did it take,
That he not onely to beleeve was blest,
But that he suffered more for Christ then all the rest.

The abject and off-skowring of the World,
A gasing stock to Angels and to Men,
Perill on Land, on Seas, with Tempest whirld,
Perill of Beasts, and of false Brethren,
Mock'd, scourg'd, bound, stock'd, cold, hungry, naked, thin,
Last, Satans buffetting spirituall:
I here should tyre my Reader and my Pen,
If I his crosses all to mind should call,
Yet he with constant Patience conquered them all.

So they that truly love, will ought endure
For his sake onely they so truly love.
Lord grant me Love, for then I may be sure,
In all afflictions patient to prove:
No power of Men or Hell their soules can move,
That build upon so good and strong foundation,
Temptation may us shake but not remove
From Love, the ground and pillar of salvation,
Love is the Cause of ours, as of our Saviours passion.

This seasons all afflictions, crosses, payne,
Makes Death our Gate to Heav'n; the Grave our rest.
This makes our Patience perfect, and doth gayne
Us Heav'n as sure, as if we were possest.
The God of Patience be ever blest,
The End and Authour of my Meditation,
And grant I constantly may ever rest
Upon his Love in Christ, my sure foundation,
Whose Patience paid my price of Reconciliation.

Thus of true Patience having laid the ground,
I thereon Christian Fortitude will raise:
For never any valour true and sound
Can well abide, but where true Patience stayes.
No perill, payne, or shame that soule dismayes,
Where these two Vertues doe themselves combine,
Both joyfull make us walke through dreadfull wayes,
And like two Sunnes in Firmament doe shine;
Most glorious Fortitude but Patience most Divine.

[pp. 177-91]